The “Deal of the Century” and Israel’s push for absolute apartheid against Palestine: The Netanyahu/Trump Annexation Plan

The Canadia BDS Coalition agrees with Bruce Katz. As we approach July 1st and threatened annexation, “it is high time that sanctions be imposed on Israel. Specifically in terms of its long-term process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of lands enacted against the Palestinians.” The defacto annexation has been in place for decades. It is not about sanctions if annexation occurs, it is about santions because of decades long ongoing war crimes, settler colonialism, and apartheid.

Join events across the country over the next few days:

Vancouver – June 26, 5pm

St-John, NB – June 27, 1pm (In front of City Hall)

Toronto – June 27, 3pm

Montreal – June 27, 4pm

Ottawa – June 28, 3:30pm

St-Catherines – July 1, 2pm

Toronto – July 4, 3pm

The “Deal of the Century” and Israel’s push for absolute apartheid against Palestine: The Netanyahu/Trump Annexation Plan

June 25, 2020

Written by: Bruce Katz

As we approach July 1 – the proposed date for the onset of the government of Israel’s plan for annexing the illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and the entire Jordan Valley – it is less than certain that Netanyahu will go forward with the annexation.

Israel has received a stern warning from over 1, 000 diplomats representing a number of European countries and though the House Republicans in the U.S, Congress have endorsed Israel’s annexation plan, the Trump administration is wavering. Netanyahu, in his usual guileful manner, has hinted at a ‘partial’ annexation but faces a growing crescendo of protesters in Israel opposed to the proposed annexation of the West Bank.

This is an appropriate moment to review the nature of that annexation plan included in the proposed ‘Deal of the Century’. It is essentially the blueprint for the creation of a permanent Palestinian Bantustan-state in eternal subjugation to an Israeli apartheid state.

This so-called Trump ‘peace plan’ was devised by the Netanyahu administration in Tel Aviv and rubber-stamped by three devoted Zionists close to Donald Trump. These three were his lawyer David Friedman ,who was appointed US ambassador to Israel, another lawyer by the name of Jason Greenblatt, former special envoy to Israel and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. No Palestinian, no Arab, no Muslim was involved in this so-called peace plan. In reality, this is not a peace plan but rather reflects the wish to carry out the Greater Israel project to annex the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The deployment of the plan is set to strengthen Trump’s position with his Christian-Zionist fundamentalist base and the right-wing of the Jewish community. Netanyahu, facing his third election within the past year will benefit as well. The main opposition candidate, Benny Gantz, has also welcomed the plan to annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The recent election resulted in a Netanyahu-Gantz coalition government.

Contrary to Kushner’s claim to adopt “an unconventional approach”, Yehuda Shaul underlines in Foreign Policy online :

The Trump plan is actually as traditional as possible. In fact, it closely resembles another plan published over 40 years ago. In 1979, the World Zionist Organization published a plan entitled “Master Plan for the Development of Settlements in Judea and Samaria, 1979-1983”, written by Matityahu Drobles, former member of the Knesset for the liberal Herut bloc – a precursor of  today’s Likud Party – and the head of the colonial division of the World Zionist Organization, the body responsible for planning and building illegal settlements.

Drobles’ plan was essentially a detailed attempt to execute the colonial expansion plan of then Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon. This task was carried out with zeal over the next four decades successive Israeli governments, placing 640,000 settlers in key areas of the West Bank. Trump’s vision is actually Drobles 2.0.

The Drobles Plan essentially said that state land and uncultivated land must be seized immediately to colonize areas between “minorities,” to minimize the possibility of an Arab state.

There is an even more sinister dimension of the Netanyahu/Trump Deal of the Century – although it is largely under-reported in the mainstream media – envisions the “transfer” of Arab villages in northern Israel, home to 20 per cent of Israel’s non-Jewish population, to the false Palestinian “state” – and the “transfer” of the citizenship of their residents.

This plan, which follows the logic of the “Jewish nation-state law” adopted by Israel, is not only an outrage, but follows the rising trend of ethno-supremacist ideology in many regions of the world.

One of the most important examples is India, where the new “registration” law planned by the Hindu nationalist government threatens the citizenship rights of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims and other minorities who have lived there for centuries.

The Drobles project reached its second stage with the Oslo Accords which, unlike the narrative that has been conveyed since 1990 by our corporate media, was not a peace plan either. The Oslo process was not based on the idea of creating a Palestinian state – only pretending to offer one while building up a completely different reality on the ground. Above all, it offered “economic peace” – the same language used in Trump’s false peace plan.

It is true that, unlike the disingenuous Deal of the Century – to be imposed on the Palestinians without their consent and without any previous negotiation – there was a good deal of negotiations leading up to the Oslo Accords. Much of what was on the negotiating table at Oslo remained there and was never applied. The Oslo Accords set in place the ‘infrastructure’ for completing the annexation of most of the West Bank and the entire Jordan Valley.

Israel’s Oslo strategy was based on transforming fragments of the occupied Palestinian territory into free trade areas to exploit the captive Palestinian workforce. Through Oslo, the West Bank was divided into three: sectors A, B and C. Thus, the Israeli domination by the army and the settlers was completed on 62 per cent of the West Bank, that is to say Zone ‘C’ which includes, of course, the best agricultural land, water sources and mineral wealth in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Gaza, completely isolated from the West Bank and East Jerusalem by the illegal and criminal blockade that has lasted for close to 14 years, has been described by prominent Israeli journalist Amira Hass as a ‘concentration camp’. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe called the deplorable living conditions in Gaza  an “incremental genocide”, that is, a slow-fire genocide.

Beyond the fragmentation of the West Bank via the Oslo process, the masterpiece of Israeli strategy was the creation of the Palestinian Authority. It continues to be the “guardian” of the West Bank as an open-air prison, which guarantees the continuity of Israel’s grip on the illegal occupation of the West Bank. It also keeps the Palestinian people in increasingly shrinking enclaves by way of Israel’s security matrix.

Recently, Mahmoud Abbas stated that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was officially ending its security co-operation with Israel. In fact, the security entente with Israel continues on the ground. The PA was created by Oslo, and meant to exist for five years while preparing the creation for a permanent elected Palestinian government. It is too integrated into the web of the Oslo Accords to break away from its security deal with Israel. The PA is kept afloat by Washington’s funding (Canada’s contribution to the Israel-PA security deal comes in at a few million dollars) so it finds itself permanently between a rock and a hard place.

Throughout the Oslo process in the 1990s, in addition to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Israeli authorities insisted on their desire to “dialogue” and establish real peace.

They talked about giving land to the Palestinians in exchange for peace, while creating irreversible facts on the ground and while asking the Palestinians to be “realistic”. They were to be “reasonable” and therefore to accept to suffer all these new violations perpetrated by Israel while it was “negotiating,” as reported by the media.

In short, this is the same language as that of the Trump plan, to tell the Palestinians to be realistic, to be reasonable and to accept to live in the Bantustan state which has been prepared by Israel for at least the past 40 years.

However, the false Oslo peace plan could not formalize the control and fragmentation of the West Bank and the annexation of the Jordan Valley, which had always been coveted from the start of the Zionist project in Palestine. Now redundant, Oslo was to be replaced by another false peace plan which would formalize and make the Israeli apartheid system permanent. This false plan is called the Trump Deal of the Century, a vision of permanent apartheid that formalizes a Palestinian Bantustan state or, if you like, a Palestinian reservation that resembles Canada’s reservations for its Indigenous peoples.

The Netanyahu/Trump Annexation Plan in summary

The Deal of the Century document is roughly 180 pages, of which 150 pages deal with economic statistics and analyses that even economists would struggle to understand, all to show how much the standard of living for Palestinians would be helped by this so-called ‘Peace Plan.’

The real political question at the heart of the debate is completely removed in addition to the question of international law, which should direct all negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In passing, the sole Palestinian instance having the mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people is the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), not the Palestinian Authority.

Under Oslo, in principle, Israel was supposed to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories as a prerequisite for the creation of a Palestinian state. Under the Trump plan, this condition does not even exist. Israel immediately gets the land it wants by annexing all of its illegal settlements as well as the Jordan Valley, and it would get even more land later, unless the Palestinians accept a long list of impossible preconditions.

For example, the Palestinians would have no army and in addition would be forced to accept the permanent presence of the Israeli army in order to maintain its security control; the Palestinian state would have no control over its borders, and therefore no control over its foreign relations and trade.

It would be deprived of control over its offshore waters which include large deposits of natural gas, no control over its airspace. This Palestinian “state” would exist on only 15% of historic Palestine, being just a collection of enclaves connected by tunnels and bridges.

This false state would still be deprived of its most fertile land, of its sources of water still under the sway of Israel, deprived of access to the Dead Sea and its mineral industries, still exploited by Israel. So the Palestinian economy would continue to be entirely under the control of Israel.

East Jerusalem, including its holy places, would be isolated from the Palestinian state, which would instead have its capital outside the city in Abu Dis, a small suburb that would be renamed Al-Quds. The Trump plan even suggests that Israel and Jordan would eventually share sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, the third holiest place in the world for Muslims. All this to allow extremist Jews who believe the mosque is on the former site of the Temple of Solomon – who want to demolish the mosque and replace it with the temple – can pray there.

In addition, the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, thereby sanctioning the dispossession and colonization of the Palestinian people. There would be no Palestinian Right of Return. Yet that is exactly what United Nations Resolution 194 requires. This resolution was adopted in 1948.

The Netanyahu/Trump Plan requires the Palestinian Authority to strip the families of political prisoners and Palestinians killed by the IDF of their social benefits. If the Palestinians do not concede all that is asked of them within four years of the initial application of the Trump plan, Israel will be free to seize and annex even more Palestinian land as it sees fit.

Of course, the Palestinians will be blamed for being “unreasonable”. The media and various political establishments will say, as was said at Camp David, that “Israel has no partner for peace.” In short, the Palestinians are invited to disappear in one way or another.

The Palestinians however, will never consent being disappeared.  This Trump plan, this permanent apartheid document, promises a major escalation of violence and further destabilization of the region, in keeping with the fascist and racist vision of the Deal of the Century.

It is high time that sanctions be imposed on Israel. Specifically in terms of its long-term process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of lands enacted against the Palestinians. More recently against the Bedouin in the Negev and its apartheid system imposed on the beleaguered Palestinian population, in flagrant defiance of international law.

Bruce Katz is a founding member and current co-president of PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity), a Montreal-based pro-Palestinian solidarity organization.PAJU is a member of the Canadian BDS Coalition.